I wanted to take a closer look at what the bible has to say in the areas of dreams and visions. These experiences have become quite popular over the years with many people who claim their dreams are from God. Others claim the ability to interpret the dreams and produce many resources and conduct expensive classes to teach the ability to do the same. Some will go so far as to provide impartations at the conclusion of classes through the laying on of hands so that the attendees will receive the gift of dreams and visions with the ability to interpret same.
I have always been a big dreamer. I dream almost every night and some of those dreams seem to go on for long periods of time. They are filled with all sorts of things, people, some living, some not, places, animals, colors, probably much like you dream. Some dreams are pleasant, some are disturbing and others are full on nightmares. I wake from my dreams sometimes happy, even laughing, sometimes I am crying, other times I have been known to scream out loud. I have times where I wake up in a full on panic attack. See? Nothing so special or different from what anyone else might experience while sleeping, except of course, to those who claim they never dream.
When I became involved in various false teachings I was noted for a gift in prophecy, which spilled over into the area of dreams and visions. It is believed those who are prophetic can also do the same in the night hours or simply while napping. Visions are more known to happen to people while awake, but the bible also mentions night visions. Regardless of these specifics, it is believed God is speaking during those moments. People with this gift are known as seer-prophets. Most organizations place a great deal importance on the prophetic gift and great responsibility on those who are known to operate under them. Many decisions are made based on what is deemed as a prophetic word, dream or vision, and these can steer an entire organization into a specific direction. I learned that oftentimes more emphasis is placed on the prophetic than is on scripture or prayer.
With all of this in mind, we owe it to ourselves and to the Lord to know the truth. I believe what you are about to read is going to have a profound impact in how you view the entire concept of dreams and visions. I believe you will gain a clearer understanding because we are going to God’s word for answers and instruction rather than a person’s claim to have knowledge and mass-produced resources.
Dreams with Clear Messages
In this section I will be using two examples taken from the bible, one from the old testament, and the other from the new testament. Both of these dreams provide the dreamer with a clear understanding of who spoke, the content of the message and the reason for the dream. I am only using enough scripture to make the points I need to in the subject of dreams. I would advise that you carefully read these stories in their entirety.
This dream is commonly referred to as Jacob’s Ladder. Most everyone is somewhat familiar with the visual concept, even those who don’t know much else about the bible. Its familiarity and clear message are reasons why I chose to use it as the first example.
Genesis 28:10And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 12And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
So here we have the amazing story of Jacob who stops for the night during his travels. Just imagine God, the Creator of all things showing Jacob angels moving up and down on a heavenly ladder! And above that ladder stands God proclaiming to Jacob who He is! Can you imagine God speaking to a man this way while he slept on the ground?
Aside from that, notice the words God used were very plain and Jacob understood it was the Lord speaking to him during the night. Jacob understood what was said to him. There is no strange symbolism in this dream, just an easy to understand message from God. In the morning, Jacob is in awe, and rightly so because unquestionably he knew that God spoke to him while he slept.
This is a piece of the story regarding the virgin birth of Christ in which Joseph finds Mary to be pregnant. Joseph knows he is not the father of her baby and who would not doubt such a thing. But before Joseph made the wrong decision and to correct his own thinking, God sent an angel to deliver a very important truth!
Matthew 1:18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
So again, a very powerful and awesome message is given and yet this time by an angel. The message is clear and understood by the dreamer who follows through with its instruction.
It is quite simple to see from these two examples that God speaks very clearly to His people. I believe clear communication is very important to God and it is important that we, as His people know we can understand Him. Think about that point, though, we are not talking about all people but His people, those who choose to know and follow Him. The following scriptures refer to calling and salvation, but the language on who hears His voice is made clear.
John 10:1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of stranger.
John10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Dreams with Symbols
This next section gets a little tricky as the dreams are more complex. They are full of symbolism involving plants and animals that don’t make any sense to us at all. We have all had these types of dreams when we later woke up wondering what that crazy was all about. Well, the content of these dreams will have the same effect when first presented. But God has His place for crazy.
In these examples God is not speaking to His people, but He is providing dreams so that their imagery can be interpreted by those who have put their faith and trust in Him. The people called to interpret these wild dreams will be put in situations that are dire, making them even desperate for God’s help, creating a need for His answers in ways that most of us have not yet experienced. In addition, He is making His presence known to those who do not follow Him. Once we make the effort to read these stories, their messages and purposes become very clear.
You have probably heard about the boy with the colored jacket, the one whose brothers tossed him down a well. Yes, this is the same guy, Joseph, whose obviously had some pretty hard times.
Joseph finds himself wrongly accused and imprisoned for something he did not do. While in prison he meets up with Pharaoh’s butler and baker who both presented him with their dreams.
Genesis 40:6And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. 7And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? 8And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.9And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 10And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: 11And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.
12And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 13Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 14But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: 15For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 17And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
18And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: 19Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
20And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: 22But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Notice in verse 8 where Joseph proclaims interpretations of dreams belong to God. This is an important point to pay attention to. He didn’t claim the ability or the gift to interpret dreams as his own. He didn’t consult with anyone regarding the meaning of the imagery, nor did he let the strangeness of the dreams shake him. Joseph knew the meaning of the dreams because God revealed the message to him and there seemed to be no doubt in Joseph’s mind from the start that God would do that very thing. The dreams both carried prophetic messages which proved to be true. It worked out well for the butler, but not so much for the poor baker.
Again, Joseph is betrayed and left forgotten and spends another two years in that prison. But the story continues and this time it is Pharaoh who does the dreaming.
41:1And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. 3And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 4And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.
5And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 7And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
8And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
Pharaoh had two consecutive dreams which troubled him. He did not know the meaning of the dreams and so-called his wise men and magicians to help him with the understanding. It must be hard having so much power and importance in a role such as the Pharaoh and yet not know your mind while sleeping! And so these men who were called, with all their gifting could not help him gain the understanding. The meaning of the imagery was kept from even those who were considered most powerful and most wise.
9Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker: 11And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
So, enter into the picture forgotten Joseph! And it makes me almost want to cheer for him, after all he has suffered to be called into such an important role and in such a crucial time. Here we will find out why. As I said, I won’t be posting all of the scriptures, just the ones to make clear what is taking place. The previous verses were posted so we can see how the imagery fits into the story and how it is interpreted. From here on I will pick through the story to bring out the points that need to be made and understood for the purpose of our topic.
As we continue to read the story we see in the verses that follow Pharaoh summons Joseph and tells him about the two dreams. In the latter part of verse 24 Pharaoh states
24…and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.
To which Joseph immediately responds
25And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. 32And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Joseph then explains the meaning of the dream which will ultimately prove to be a severe famine. Joseph again provides interpretation without pause and without taking personal gifting for the ability to understand the dream. He makes clear that the dream came from God and the events depicted in the dream will soon take place.
38And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Pharaoh acknowledged that God had revealed those things to him and found Joseph’s wisdom to be unmatched in the land, even above those previously considered the most wise. God gives us wisdom when we ask.
James 5:1 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The word discreet in verse 39 also means to discern. How often have you heard someone claim to have the gift of discernment? Here we see it given to mature believers.
Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
I want to quickly look at the early experiences of Daniel as the examples are similar to that of Joseph. I believe doing this will help to clarify scriptural points. Where there is repetition, there is great importance. Anytime we see something repeat itself, whether it be a story, a theme, or even just a phrase, it is a place to take notice.
In Daniel chapter one we see him as one brought in to serve under the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. He is accompanied by three of his pals, along with others who were descendents and nobles of the king.
17As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
20And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
Again we see that God gives knowledge, but here we see also the point made that Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. And as for our group of the four young men they were found to be wiser than all the magicians and astrologers in the land. God’s power and His gifts will always outdo that of Satan and the occult practices we see in the supernatural. In the same manner, the true gifts of God will out perform any of the false gifts that are prevalent today. Such gifts will gain in power because it has been ordained by God that they must. Many will be deceived during those times and that truth is a reason for this writing.
In chapter two King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that leaves him quite troubled. He calls for his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans, all of the men gifted in the occult to tell of his dream. But unlike Pharaoh in the previous story, this King wants to be told the dream itself and the interpretation. This is his demand at the threat of death and destruction to their households if they could not, but great gifts with great honor as rewards should any of them know the answer. In verse 10 it is the Chaldeans who claim it’s impossibility –
10The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. 11And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
Here is it established from the wisest of the wise this demand from the King is not within a mere mortal’s capability. It simply could not be done. The story continues as the King was quite angry and sent out a decree to kill all of those deemed to be wise. This decree included Daniel and his three companions.
14Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: 15He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. 16Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
17Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: 18That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
We see here that Daniel went to his friends and prayed that the Lord would give them mercy for this situation. Later in the night, while he slept, Daniel was given the dream and it’s interpretation, for which he later will give God glory. Again we see that God gives wisdom and we are also told he reveals deep and secret things, even those that are impossible to know on our own.
20Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
21And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
22He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
23I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
Daniel reiterates to the King that this dream was given by God and the purpose of the dream was to show the King what was in his own heart.
27Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 28But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; 29As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. 30But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Now, this dream has some very serious implications and meanings, and as Daniel stated are for the latter days and its complete meaning is yet to unfold. I’m not interpreting dreams, only pointing out what the scriptures have to say about them.
After the dream and it’s meaning are explained by Daniel, remember a feat claimed to be impossible for a mere man, we see an unbelieving King acknowledge God, the revealer of secrets!
47The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Trances with Visions and Imagery Including Angelic Visitation
Some believers claim to go into trance states and have visions. They also claim to receive special messages and direction from God during while in the trances. I wanted to take a look at an example from scripture and came upon a very interesting and complex story of Cornelius and Peter. Both of these men were considered devout and given to prayer.
Acts chapter 10 begins with a man called Cornelius who during a time of prayer receives a visit by an angel through a vision. Though afraid,Cornelius immediately recognizes him as a messenger from the Lord and responds accordingly.
3He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
It is exciting that the angel addressed him by name, “Cornelius”. The angel gave him instructions on what he and his men were to do and who the men were to ask for, again by name, Simon Peter, and where he would be found. It’s very personal and we shouldn’t be surprised because we are known by name. However, the point that we need to remember here is clarity. Clear instruction.
Continuing, we see Peter enter the story and this is where some odd imagery comes in to play.
9On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
God is speaking to Peter in a vision, while in a trance. Peter sees imagery that is familiar to him and at first misunderstands the meaning of what he is shown. God repeats the message three times, and we remember that repetition means importance. Peter does not fully understand the meaning of all that he has been shown and he doesn’t understand why he is being shown these things. Verse 17 states that he doubted within himself the meaning of the vision. At the same time, God’s plan unfolds, and in verse 19 Peter begins to receive instruction through the Holy Spirit.
Just after we see the two men meet according to the instructions that had both been given. Note Peter’s response:
28And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Peter understands the meaning of the vision that had previously not been clear. Because of the wording in verse 19 we know the revelation came from the Lord. There is no other way he could have known.
As the story continues through the rest of chapter 10, and we see God’s purpose for these visions was to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Verse 34 states:
These stories are truly amazing in their content and have deep meaning when read in their entirety. In them, we see God’s plan unfolding before our very eyes. I believe communication is very important to God and we see Him offering different methods of communication through these dreams and visions. God makes His plan known to His people. We see God reach out and speak clearly to those who love Him so that they can understand Him.
We see great leaders, Pharaohs and Kings given dreams by God containing bothersome symbolism that they, nor anyone in their courts could understand. Yet God called men, seemingly unimportant to the world, and explained to them the deep hidden secrets implanted in the minds and dreams of those great rulers. We see God give wisdom and discernment to those who ask. And we seek God make His existence known to others who do not know Him.
All who witnessed these mighty and unmatched acts knew these miracles came from the Most High God. And they were indeed, miracles, feats with specific purposes of God which cannot be mimicked or dumbed down for the deceitful and selfish, gainful purposes of mere men and women.
We cannot read these stories and still come away thinking we need people to teach us how to understand our own dreams and visions. Or, that we need an impartation to receive the ability to do so. If and when God speaks to us in a dream or a vision we will know all that we need to because we belong to Him and hear His voice. And if there be any doubt we can rest assured we have the precious word of God to guide us and the Holy Spirit to lead us and to reveal the truth. That’s His job. Anything else is just a lie.
The scriptures are very clear.
©M’Kayla Kelly 2015